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Old 09 August 2004, 08:17   #1
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Report on the Sinking of Spirit

History.. Spirit was designed and built to one thing, to take on the worlds oceans and set world records for other people to break.
Although we have had thousands of views so far it is a shame that a few people clearly have no idea what they are talking about and felt they should post comments which have only proved they are lacking in knowledge when it comes to seamanship and should reconsider their chosen hobby.

It is more than possible that the boat you are using has been built using information that we have either given or in some cases, stolen from our
findings, designing,using and building offshore boats.This report is for the genuinely interested parties and not the ones that think they know better.

Two weeks previous, Spirit was used by two girls in an attempt to circumnaviagte Ireland non stop. An unfourtunate coming together with a lobster pot meant that they had to ask for assistance but they finished the trip off 12 hours later.

The Journey
On arriving in Northern Ireland a full and detailed inspection was carried out of the craft and she was serviced and prepared for the Trans Atlantic.
Leaving Donaghadee at 22.00 hours on Sunday 1st August in a light southerly and 1800 litres of fuel, her next refueling stop was planed for a group of Islands South east of Iceland 700 miles away. With the exception of a small fuel problem in during the early hours of the night, Spirit performed as she was intended covering the first 400 miles in 22 hours.

The Sinking

A couple of minutes before 20.00hrs running at 20 knots in a large southerly swell with 3-4 metre waves and no prior indication, Spirit was crushed by a series of rogue waves causing severe damage to the first half of the boat.
The huge ingress of water destroyed everything inside the boat including all navigation and VHF communication. All this happened in less than one second.
From being afloat running good to being under water.
At this stage, there is no need to go into great detail about the rescue with the exception that the RAF, RN and everyone on board carried out their duties as a team,

Conclusion
Spirit was built to sustain forward, sideways and even turn over impacts, she was not designed for what we believe happened.

It is an understanding that rogue waves are taller than any other wave around at any particular time. having been hit by one off of Florida in 2002 this is what I believed until I watched a scentific program on rogue waves that they are ones that disappear from under the boat leaving a huge wave in front to climb up. Because there was no stuffing or anyone being thrown out of the seats or bunks we believe that the 4 meter wave that we were on, sunk while we were going along causing us to be in an instant 8 meter deep hole surrounded by two four metre waves both in front and behind. The combined weight of the waves simply crushed Spirit like tissue paper causing her to sink to an unknown depth. There are many cases each year of fishing boats disappearing and it is only the fact that the inflatable coller was still part attached to the hull that she eventually floated to the surface and we are alive to tell the story.
I hope that none of you are ever in the situation that we found ourselves in.
A full and detailed report is being prepared for the MCA in a hope that from our misfortune the knowledge we have gained may save another seamans life
Alan P
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Old 09 August 2004, 08:51   #2
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it is a shame that a few people clearly have no idea what they are talking about and felt they should post comments which have only proved they are lacking in knowledge when it comes to seamanship and should reconsider their chosen hobby.



Well put Allen. We never stop learning until we draw our last breath, I am sure you will agree with that.

If Eg is still with you please PM an e-mail address I may use to contact him

Best Wishes

Dave B
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Old 09 August 2004, 08:57   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan Priddy
I hope that none of you are ever in the situation that we found ourselves in.
A full and detailed report is being prepared for the MCA in a hope that from our misfortune the knowledge we have gained may save another seamans life
Alan P
Hear, hear Alan.

We've learned a lot over the past few weeks and will always be grateful for having been part of the team.

It will be very helpful and informative (for us leisure boaters) to explain and discuss the physics of what happens to a hull in extreme situations.
There are a lot of experienced and knowledgeable people out there like yourself who may also help us by sharing what they know and have seen first hand.

Good to talk to you today and take care,

K. & P.
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Old 09 August 2004, 11:53   #4
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Alan, Firstly, I am not a marine engineer or boat designer, but I feel I do have some valid points that should be addressed, and I see no logical reason why they shouldn't.

My understanding of the RIB was that it was unsinkable due to the size and strength of the tubes. I have seen a picture of the damage done to the tubes on the Ireland trip on another site, and found it on here, see :-

http://www.ribworld.com/forum/attach...achmentid=7144

Could it at all be possible that the tubes on Spirit had come to the end of their life and perhaps this was a bit much for them? I say this as you talk of the sound of an explosion at the front of the boat, could that have been one of the tubes bursting? After the split shown in the picture above, did you have a full survey done of the tubes when and if you had a repair done? You make no mention of this in your report which is concerning, as it is an obvious and very important point. I can't believe for one minute that they were not repaired, but I would have a good word with the tube inspector/repairer, it would be interesting to see what the survey said about the tubes in the report prior to the trip, did Henshaws repair the tubes? Do tubes have a lifespan, how old were these ones on the boat?

Could you also let us know from the design of the boat whether it could float with the tubes fully inflated, with the boat full of water. If so, and it was sinking, then there is no doubt that air must have come out of the tubes somehow. What kind of external force (e.g. rogue wave) would be required to burst the tubes?

I think questions like mine, and no doubt others that come, may help in some small way to piecing this together. I am sure that the answers you give will assist in establishing what may or may not have happened. I guess a number of people will be very interested as they may feel they are driving around in something unsinkable, which apparently is not the case.

I am sure that you are keeping an open mind, and that any suggestions such as mine are very welcome. I look forward to the answers.
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Old 09 August 2004, 13:15   #5
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Peteb.........

I think that if you re-read Alans post you might notice that he states that the boat was completly immersed and regained the surface because the tubes were still attached to the remains of the hull.
What makes you think that the tubes has burst or failed?

If you want to see proof of "holes" in the sea, go to Hayling Island Sailing Club and look at the photo of a French trimeran of Ushant. It is just about to fall into a hole around 50m across and 10m deep which opened, and luckily closed, just in front of it. Or failing that, you may want to try a passage through the Alderney Race at full ebb in a southerly blow. Take a BIG boat if you do.

If any one knows of a link to the photo, it may well be worth posting.

Also try and think where the expression "Worse could happen at sea" came from.
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Old 09 August 2004, 13:31   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peteb
My understanding of the RIB was that it was unsinkable
PeteB

I don't think there is any such thing as an unsinkable boat?

In my photo the outer layer of tape had slipped on the tubing; the tube was intact. This was due to the heavy seas from Cork to Donegal (head seas then beam then following throughout the second night, second day and third night on the Round Ireland trip.)

Full repairs were carried out and I'd say Alan will give further details. But it seems from reading what he's said and from talking to him that indeed the 'wall of water' effect on the hull caused the breach. Again the tubes seem to have helped to keep them safe.

Missus
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Old 09 August 2004, 14:31   #7
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As one who has covered many, many thousands of miles on board Spirit, I feel I should sling in my two-haporth, even though I'm no qualified boat-builder.

There is no doubt in my mind that a conventionally built RIB would not have popped up again after that initial impact. Spirit had a double layer hull with foam infill. After over 400 miles at sea she would have burned off a good ton of fuel, so there was significant buoyancy in her fuel tanks. Even with partially failed tubes she still had the capacity to float.

What you can't count on is the unpredictable nature of rogue waves, and of course we've since seen the Atlantic rowers smashed to bits by one. We saw several in the Caribbean in 2002, and they were frightening things to witness. You would hear a sound like a 747 about to crash into you. Fortunately the worst sailed past a short distance away, but we had some very close calls even so.

I think that rather than trying to say what went wrong, people should recognise that the unique features of Spirit's design were precisely what kept her afloat long enough for Alan, Eg, Kevin and Paul to be rescued. She may be gone, but Spirit's robust design should be hailed as a triumph, not a failure.


Clive Tully
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Old 09 August 2004, 15:05   #8
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Clive, what you have said makes sense, I was just amazed how long the boat stayed afloat waiting for the rescue. The double skinned hull and fuel tank perhaps saved the day, plus any air in the tubes. Do they make double skinned tubes of any sort like run flat tyres? I was very impressed that it also stayed upright, it must have had good stability with all that water sloshing about and waves hitting it.

I would think that some invention that gives a waterproof power supply would be good, something that would operate even when submerged, like some of the lights I use for diving, but fixed in the vessel. I keep a dive light on my boat, but hand held. The only problem is that the heat given off could damage the bulb if the light was not submerged, but I am sure there are alternative systems.

Anyway, I am sure that there will be lessons learnt for all from this.
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Old 09 August 2004, 15:46   #9
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strake

Peteb the pic that you linked to doesnt show any tube damage atall, the Rubbing Strake that the pic shows simply needed attention, it partially came away, not fully, the tubes still held air, and functioned without the full intergerity of the strake, and you also should expect a vessel flooded in this instance, to stay upright as its centre of gravity is right down low.As for Rouge Waves, never seen one in the flesh, but I have had one nasty experience of a wave dropping away, in A Torrnado plunging us nose first down and a wave rolling over us and swamping the rib.If you try to imagine this on a much bigger scale it certinally is a plausible and frightening reason.
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Old 09 August 2004, 15:57   #10
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if you were to do it again, anything you would add/ change to Spirits specification, she sounds as though she was almost (sadly not) bullet proof
would a different build material ie Aluminium have made a difference, does GRP when under heavy stresses have a limited lifespan ( spirit has been through some very heavy seas in her time) will you would you do it again,
glad you are safe and well ,so sorry it ended the way it did but you are an inspiration to others so good luck for the future, and hope you continue in pushing back the boundries, and breaking records
reards Tim Griffin
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